The Celtics couldn’t have asked for a better Game Two. Rondo gets out of his funk and attacks the basket, Paul Pierce gets to rest those tired legs for nearly the entire game, Perk plays the best defense of his life on the best interior player in the game, and Eddie House comes alive for the second time in the playoffs to show how valuable a member he is to this team.
If someone were to tell me that Eddie House would be the game’s high scorer and he would drive base line with his left, I would have asked them if they also thought Patrick O’Bryant was going to see minutes for us this year (When we signed him, I actually thought he’d break out….damn my homer-optimism). No one could have guessed that Eddie House would play like a man possessed tonight. Everyone knows Eddie is a streaky shooter, but shooting 11-14 and 4-4 from deep is better than just streaky, hell, it’s 79%.
The first two games of this series, the Celtics bench has really provided a pick-me-up. In the first game, Scal came in and started hitting threes and playing really good defense while tonight’s game belonged to Eddie House (although you could make a case for Scal playing really great D on Rashard Lewis). If you take a look at the box score for tonight’s game, you’ll see that the Celtics’ line looks more like the Bulls in a game that actually ended in regulation. Two guys off the bench, a ‘big’ and a ‘little,’ playing starter’s minutes and making huge contributions.
Before last night’s game, every analyst, save for maybe Chris Broussard, wrote about the C’s being too tired to win, too injured to compete, too small up front to defend Dwight Howard. I can’t wait to see the experts explain this one.
Last night, I think they saw, what I saw. A game where a veteran team, the reigning NBA Champions really showed their mettle. Although, I got to say, I expected things to go very differently. I expected a hard-fought Celtics’ win via a slugfest. I predicted Pierce to be out of breath during the news conference, Rondo to have tired/ hurt feet, and Glen Davis to have shed at least five pounds chasing Rashard Lewis. I expected, what would have effectively been, a repeat of a game from the last series. So, in order to prepare to watch every possession as if it were to be the game changer, I started writing down everything I thought was significant from timeout to timeout. However, it quickly grew apparent that this game would have its moments more than its quality back and forth. Here is an abridged version of the notes I took in chronological order:
Interspersed throughout all of my notes included many, “How the hell did House get that off?” as well as “House for three.” However, the notes that kept constantly reoccurring included, “great close-out” and “Celts’ dominating the boards” and “great interior passing.” All of these things show that the Celtics’ really brought their “A” game tonight.
If you’re a Celtics’ fan, you have to be encouraged. Rondo got a triple-double without shooting well (7-19). Ray Allen took it inside despite being blocked big time in the first game and his mid-range game was stellar (he also didn’t shoot well from three, 2-7, and is due). The bench played really well; well enough to be trusted. Paul Pierce only played 16 minutes. For a guy who has looked really tired these last two games to only needing to play 16 minutes is huge. Not only does he have the opportunity to rest his legs, but he also, like Ray, is due for a break out game offensively.
Charles Barkley in so many words, said that the Magic were complacent and just happy to get one win in Boston so they could get home court. Despite losing home court advantage, this actually helps the Celtics. The Magic, and more specifically Dwight Howard, have been questioned about their drive and their heart before. Maybe this game will serve to break their spirits beyond repair. If not, at least the C’s have put themselves in the best possible position they could have hoped for after that game one loss.
All I can say is, see you in sunny Orlando.
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